Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday Dilemma: No Dumping!

We've faced a serious problem the last four Sundays. Some inconsiderate neighborhood jerk has been placing his bag of trash in our garbage can. I don't think it makes me uncharitable or unkind to be irked about this. If it were the morning of garbage day and there were room in our can, go for it. But he does it on Sundays when our garbage pick-up day isn't until Wednesday. We have not yet finished filling our can with our own junk; there's no room for anyone else's.

One week I moved the can into our back patio area, but it's so ugly to have the can there. Convenient yes, but not aesthetically pleasing. And not so convenient when it's time to drag it out into the alley, negotiating a narrow gate and bumpy sidewalk. Also, why should I be inconvenienced by someone else's jerky behavior?

For awhile I thought that it perhaps belonged to the person who may or may not be living in the trailer home that's permanently parked in a questionably legal spot in the alley. I have taken the bag of abandoned trash out of my can and moved it to the trailer. That worked for one week, but the next week it showed up in our can again. Again I took it out and placed it by the trailer. This time it ended up in the alley's no-man zone, which is right where I park, so that wasn't cool either. My deductive reasoning told me it didn't belong to the trailer after all. But who? The vampires? The chupacabras? Oh, the stories I haven't told you yet about our neighbors. There's a blog post for another day.

Deterrents I have considered implementing:
  • Rigging the lid with a camera that takes a picture of the trespasser when he opens the lid
  • Putting a webcam in the laundry room that faces the can and monitoring it to see who the culprit is
  • Loading up my iPad with entertainment and hanging out in the laundry room to surveil
  • Putting a generous amount of slow-drying adhesive on the lid to catch the person sticky-handed
  • Rigging the lid with some sort of spray paint so that when he opens the lid it gets him
  • Drilling a hole in the lid and chaining the whole thing shut
  • Setting up a motion-sensitive security floodlight

I am more industrious in thought than I am in action, so I have opted for putting this sign on the bin instead:

All of this brings to mind another form of dumping we're all susceptible to - emotional and mental. When we open our minds to the wrong influences, they become a dumping ground for unwanted thoughts and images. Whatever we let our minds be filled with determines how we act and ultimately who we become. It's so easy to let negative thoughts and self-doubt creep in.

Just like my sign points out, our brains, hearts and minds are privileged - even sacred - areas. No dumping allowed!

Yes, it's another gospel/life analogy moment. You're welcome. Meanwhile, I'll let you know how it goes.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Things Like This Aren't Supposed to Happen to Me

Last night when I got home from work I automatically glanced at the answering machine to see if we had received any calls. The light wasn't on. "That's strange," I thought. "The power must have gone out today." Who knows what sort of fickle mild weather could make our electricity go out? It had, after all, been raining. I called C to figure out where the circuit breakers were and pulled those. Nothing. Checked the fuses. Nothing.

Crap. The image of an unpaid electric bill passed through my mind. I called the utility company and sure enough, I was on their naughty list and had been cut off. And since it was, naturally, after regular business hours, I couldn't do anything about it until the next day. I could use the auto-pay function to pay the bill, but had to speak to a real live person to get the account reactivated.

I called Linda and asked if she was in a forgiving mood before explaining what had happened. She had deleted ALL the recorded shows off our DVR (accidentally) a few months ago, so I figured those two accidental events balanced each other out.

Meanwhile, we lit some candles and got out lanterns we had just received at Christmas time as part of an emergency preparedness kit, then went over to C's house to watch TV and eat dinner. We may not have had electricity, but we weren't going to rough it!

When I got home from tap class at about 9:45 Linda was getting ready for bed, which is exceptionally early for her. She said that with no electricity this must have been what the pioneers felt like. "Not exactly," I said. "My iPad still has a full charge so I'm good to go for awhile."

She probably really felt like a pioneer though when she went over to C's house this morning to get ready. She tried taking a shower, but C has been having hot water heater issues lately and the pilot light was out. Linda just ended up dunking her head in cold water instead of taking a cold shower.

When she got home from teaching seminary I was just getting out of my shower. "You had a warm shower?!" she questioned disbelievingly.

"Well, yes," I replied. "The gas bill is paid!" Ha!

Anyway, I was pretty mad at myself last night for letting such a stupid thing happened. "These things aren't supposed to happen to me," I wailed half-jokingly to C.

"Why?" she asked. "Do you think you're immune from doing stupid things?"

Oh. I guess not. In fact, I do an infinite amount of stupid things on a daily basis, I imagine. But as Linda pointed out, I haven't let the electricity get shut off for 11 years of living in the same place, so that's something. I probably don't need to beat myself up for a silly mistake. I need to make sure it doesn't happen again, but don't need to beat myself up over it.

I'll let you draw your own life/gospel analogies here. There are some good ones.

Friday, January 4, 2013


Last night we were watching "The Real Housewives of Miami," the real-life documentary of how rich women in Miami get along with each other, their husbands/significant others, their daily struggles with difficult decisions such as which lingerie party to attend and how much alcohol to consume, who to yell at and why, and how much cleavage should be displayed on any given day. It's highly educational and informative. It makes me want to move to Miami.

One of the women's mother is someone I admire very much and look up to. She has taught me many things during the course of this past season. The most important lesson I learned from her is to NOT get any plastic surgery. She is the antithesis of enhancement.

So last night we could make each other crack up with one simple word: "Bah-nah-nah." Go ahead - say it. It's fun. Bah-nah-nah.  And if you can endure the horror show, here is a :41 second video of Mama Elsa, she of the plastic surgery gone terribly, horribly wrong.

I also saw this fun little video this morning about the dangers of making new year's resolutions. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Searching for Laughter

I received a comment about the “Laugh, think, cry” post where someone said she agreed with laughing and thinking, but not so much the crying idea. I get that. Crying takes work, be it for reasons happy or sad. It also is no good for the general appearance, specifically with the potential of smeared makeup and red-rimmed eyes.

Three times already today I’ve experienced a very happy type of feeling that can easily lead to tears as an expression of feeling a high level of emotion. My running buddy recounted a story about her dad while she was visiting him over the holidays that was very touching. I read a story about 288 customers in coffee shop who all played the “Pay It Forward” game today. Heart-warming stories like that evoke warm, fuzzy feelings in me that cause tears to prick the eyeballs. And anytime I really start to count my blessings or open my heart in prayer – that same high emotion causes a welling of tears.

The crying isn’t my challenge. I find that for me, the one I’ve been having issues with is laughing. It surprises me, as I view myself as a very cheerful person, quick to see the humor in any situation. I smile frequently, make many jokes (I try to not make those at the expense of other people, preferring instead comedy of the self-deprecating variety, plays on words, or irony), and love a good internet cat video as much as the next person.

But a full-on laugh? Anything more than a chuckle is rare for me on a daily basis. I can generally count on a belly laugh 22 times a year when “America’s Funniest Videos” is on at our house, not because it’s always greatly amusing to me, but because it IS greatly amusing to cimblog™ and watching her laugh is seriously funny business.

The closest I’ve come to an actual laugh today, so far, was when I asked my roommate if my outfit consisted of too many colors. She scrutinized me then said, “Well, probably no one will notice.”

I agreed that was most likely the case, but it didn’t really answer the question. I’m not entirely sure that getting a wry chuckle out of my own fashion-challenged self qualifies as a laugh.

The thinking part of today – is thinking about laughing. That in and of itself is funny, actually. Although it is only making a corner of my lip go up in a smile, not a full-on laugh.

I’m still in search for the perfect day this year. I did laugh yesterday – a genuine laugh caused by pure joy, but I’m not sure I did a lot of thinking. I know it’s only the second day of the year, but I don’t think it’s too much to accomplish three simple things in one day. Turns out, they’re not so simple. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Ushering in the New Year

I'm not really a big believer in new year's resolutions. To quote Mary Poppins, "That's a piecrust promise. Easily made, easily broken." I DO believe in setting goals and improving oneself, of course. But I don't think one should wait until January 1 each year to do so. If you see an area that needs improvement, then by all means, make a goal and do it!

I am not against turning over new leaves for the new year, though. I just don't believe in limiting myself to setting goals one time a year. I think any new whatever can be an auspicious beginning for positive change - a new month, week, day.

Having said that, I'm not above recognizing that a new year is a great landmark and milestone to recognize and acknowledge accomplishments and reflect on areas of improvement. It's about putting the past behind you and looking forward to the future with hope and gentle anticipation of good things to come.

There are several things I'm looking forward to in 2013. There are four concerts I have tickets for that will make it my almost-perfect concert year: P!nk, Imagine Dragons, and Muse are things I'm eagerly anticipating and bought tickets for some time ago. For Christmas I received tickets for "Drumline Live," which I imagine will be a thumping, lively good time - right up my alley.

I am also busily training for the half-marathon I signed up to run in March, and when that is complete, will switch gears (hahaha) to getting ready for the Huntsman 140 I will ride with my sister(s). We're still not sure if we'll do the full 140 or the 75-mile version, but do it we will.

Those are events to attend, to particpate in, to prepare for - but they don't really speak to change or improvement. Well, the physical ones do - I will become a better runner and cyclist, but becoming more physically fit doesn't necessarily guarantee becoming a better person. And let's face it - that's what change and goals are all about.

I heard a quote the other day on a TV show that was credited to Jim "Jimmy V" Valvano, a famous NCAA basketball coach (I guess. Not famous to me, but that's because I don't closely follow NCAA sports).

“To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you're going to have something special.”

Laugh. Think. Cry.

I like that a lot. If I were to make a new year's resolution, this would be the one.  Sometimes I feel like I might just be going through the motions each day during a week looking forward to the next thing. But if I were to find something to laugh about (not AT - an important distinction), a thought that would improve my life in some way, and have an emotionally moving experience each day - what kind of a wonderful year would that be?

Amazing, I think.

Happy New Year's Eve!

For my new year's festivities, we did the same thing we've done for the past several years - went to Pasadena and looked at the Rose Bowl Parade floats as they line up on Orange Grove Blvd in preparation for the parade. We went with a bigger group of people than we have in the past - as we know someone who had an official pass that would enable us to drive and park closer than we've been able to do on our own. It resulted in a lot less walking, which was a nice luxury.

"Bigger group of people" = 13 people in a 14-person van. Every time we unloaded, it felt a little bit like a circus clown car. 

It was cold! All you non-Californians can say anything you want about how not cold it is here, but it really can get cold during the winter months here! We were all bundled up in the brisk night air.

I always marvel at the people who camp out to save a place to watch the parade the next day. Many of them are ill-prepared for the cold weather and you can tell they don't do any REAL camping as their bedding consists of random Spider-Man and Sponge Bob blankets and precious little else.

 For me it wouldn't be worth it. I prefer walking the route, getting up close to the floats, then going home to the comfort and warmth of my own bed and watching the parade on TV the next morning.

These guys had a slightly better sleeping bags that looked like they might actually be 0-rated, and I liked their cute little tents.

But the real point of going is to get up close to the floats and seeing details you can't see even from the warm comfort of the living room.


Merry Christmas!

What? Just because it's New Year's Day doesn't mean I can't wish you a Merry Christmas.

This has been a wonderful holiday. My new job has afforded me the luxury of having some time off ... with pay. It truly doesn't get any better than that. I had high hopes of accomplishing many around-the-house chores and cleaning activities. Instead, I did not. Oh sure, I did some things, but mostly I just relaxed. The amazing thing about that was that I didn't feel lazy. I did a lot of running - working on increasing my distance and endurance. That felt good and gave me a sense of accomplishment.

We also played Secret Santa for a family in our ward, and that was incredibly rewarding. The wife talked to us at a wedding reception the other night, expressing amazement at the generous gifts they received from a Secret Santa and how much they appreciated everything. She did it without having the slightest inkling that it was us, which made it that much more fun. 

In keeping with my theme to this post of rambling about a lot of nothing, here are some pictures.